The one-percenters are investing in luxury bunkers with gyms, cinemas, and Jacuzzis to live in after the apocalypse. But they’ll be terribly bored down there, writes Thando Ndabezitha.
I’m always astonished when I read about doomsday preppers or survivalists, particularly the super-rich investors – a growing number of them from Silicon Valley – actively preparing lavish bunkers to live in when the curtains close.
“It’s still not at the point where industry insiders would turn to each other with a straight face and ask what their plans are for some apocalyptic event,” the CEO of a large tech company told The New Yorker. “But, having said that, I actually think it’s logically rational and appropriately conservative.”
Inside The World of Luxury Bunkers
The videos showing the inside of these bunkers are surreal. Run an online search for “luxury steel bunkers” and names of startups like Rising S and Vivos will come up. These are companies meeting wealthy clients’ needs for bunkers that are nowhere near the dank concrete underground rooms many of us would imagine.
“Psychologically, it doesn’t feel like you’re underground,” says Larry Hall, owner of Kansas-based Survival Condo Project, a 15-storey luxury apartment complex built in a former nuclear missile silo. He himself owns a home in the complex, which he describes as being “like a miniature cruise ship”.
When you think of living in a cruise ship – if the rest of the planet were to become uninhabitable – it doesn’t sound as horrific and anxiety-inducing as a bunker. “It has amenities such as rock-climbing walls, a game arcade, classrooms, a library, a movie theatre… it’s got everything that you need to spread out and maintain some semblance of normal when things outside are anything but normal.”
Coping With Claustrophobia
Investors actually holiday in these bunkers, he says, and this isn’t surprising considering how much investment is actually going into creating these alternate worlds. In addition to employing psychologists who reportedly consult with NASA to counsel any residents battling with claustrophobia, there are hydroponic gardens, pools and a bar.
“We have nine-foot high ceilings in the apartments and they have electronic windows that are fed with a variety of scenes. Some of them are live, high-definition scenes that are displayed on television sets that are framed to look like windows. You can tell what time of day it is, you can see what the weather is doing… you can literally live wherever you want to live and have the views you want to have.”
Information Age Fomo
Besides this being a very crude type of social Darwinism, as writer Harmon Leon pointed out, as a digital native I can’t help but wonder: What would the internet look like in a post-apocalyptic world where only the super-rich survive in their bunkers that have parks, spas and gyms?
Yes, some of these bunkers have internet access, but a post-apocalyptic world-wide-web sounds like Encarta Encyclopedia 95.
Don’t get me wrong, if I were a wealthy apocalypse survivor, for a short time, I’d be grateful to be alive – and in such sumptuous style too. But the limitation of never again being able to leave the bunker would be profoundly less devastating than being cut off from the world as we experience it in the Information Age.
Death By Apocalyptic Asteroid
For me, the world is more than just the physical space we inhabit as humans. It is the frequent sharing of ideas online, the rapid spread of information, and it’s advocacy.
This is why we can so often disappear in our handsets to connect with humans from all over the world who have different beliefs and frames of reference to us. Online we clash and learn from each other, expanding our world views.
The internet is a wonderful (and sometimes terrifying) space for sharing knowledge that’s constantly growing and a resource for finding unquantifiable amounts of new data that can be shared – for good or for evil – within split seconds.
In this current ambivalent and fast-paced reality, the idea of an insular, privileged post-apocalyptic life sounds not only parochial but dreary.
Give me the option to argue with a complete stranger on the internet any day, or give me death by apocalyptic asteroid.